A source, who requested anonymity, said Espenido was among the police officials suspected of involvement in illegal drugs who were at a meeting called by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa.
Edd Gumban/ File
Espenido says inclusion in 'narcolist' may be 'failure of intelligence'
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - February 18, 2020 - 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido broke his silence on Tuesday, saying allegations linking him to illegal drug operations could be a result of failed intelligence.

The inclusion of Espenido, who had previously been praised for his participation in the government's "war on drugs", in a list of nearly 360 police officers under investigation for alleged drug links, has raised concerns that the Philippine National Police may be coddling erring cops, an insinuation that the PNP has denied. 

"That’s true. There may be failure of intel," Espenido told reporters.

RELATED: Espenido sacked for suspected drug links?

Since news of Espenido's inclusion in the list broke out, Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, has opted to stay mum, saying only that the list is being validated and that cops found to have drug links will be charged.

On her radio show Sunday, Vice President Leni Robredo said the alleged drug link erode public trust in the national police.

Gamboa, on Monday, said Robredo's comment was "[a] wrong statement [because it has] no basis."

"We will conduct adjudication, why would [she] say we're protecting them? Had we intended to protect them, why did we bare the 357 [names?] And that's the last argument I am going to make with that statement," Gamboa told reporters.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has already confirmed that the decorated police lieutenant colonel is in the supposed 'narcolist.'  

Gamboa: I want them to enjoy impartiality

Gamboa in an earlier interview with ANC's "Headstart," defended the need to give each of the 357 officers in the list impartiality, saying any comment he makes might influence the probe into the officers.

"I want them to enjoy the impartiality that they should be afforded of [and] hopefully everybody is going to respect the confidentiality issue that I brought up. I would rather stick to my promise to the 357 and observe confidentiality and be subjected to all kinds of conclusions," he said. 

For Gamboa, any comment about the officers and their identity could get in the way of the adjudication process. 

"It should be understood, however, that even if they avail of my offer to early retirement, it does not extinguish their culpability as determined by the investigation," he said. "If proven and there is evidence that you are still on the watchlist then we will still place you under monitoring and build cases against you."

“We need to act fast and act now on the adjudication of 357 PNP personnel whom I have ordered reassigned to my office to ensure their availability to face further investigation because I do not want to end my term as chief PNP in September without adjudicating with finality the status of personnel in the drugs watchlist,” the police chief added.

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